At L.A. City College just before World War II, I posed as a
Nazi. I hardly knew Hitler from Hercules and cared less. It wa
just that sitting in class and hearing all the patriots preach how we
should go over and do the beast in, I grew bored. I decided to become
the opposition. I didn't even bother to read up on Adolf, I
simply spouted anything that I felt was evil or maniacal.
However, I really didn't have any political beliefs. It was a way
of floating free.
You know, sometimes if a man doesn't believe in what he is
doing he can do a much more interesting job because he isn't
emotionally caught up in his Cause. It wasn't long before all the tall
blond boys had formed The Abraham Lincoln Brigade--to hold off
the hordes of facism in Spain. And then had their asses shot off
by trained troops. Some of them did it for adventure and a trip to
Spain but they still got their asses shot off. I liked my ass. There
really wasn't much I liked about myself but I did like my ass and
I leaped up in class and shouted anything that came to my mind.
Usually it had something to do with the Superior Race, which I
thought was rather humorous. I didn't lay it directly onto the
Blacks and the Jews because I saw that they were as poor and
confused as I was. But I did get off some wild speeches in and out of
class, and the bottle of wine I kept in my locker helped me along.
I was surprised that so many people listened to me and how few, if
any, ever questioned my statements. I just ran off at the mouth and
was delighted at how entertaining L.A. City College could be.
"Are you going to run for student body president, Chinaski?"
I didn't want to do anything. I didn't even went to go to gym. In
fact, the last thing I wanted to do was to go to gym and sweat and
wear a jockstrap and compare pecker-lengths. I knew I had a
medium-sized pecker. I didn't have to take gym to establish that.
We were lucky. The college decided to charge a two dollar
enrollment fee. We decided--a few of us decided, anyhow--that that
was unconstitutional, so we refused. We struck against it. The college
allowed us to attend classes but took away some of our privileges,
one of them being gym.
When time arrived for gym class, we stood in civilian clothing.
The coach was given orders to march us up and down the field in
close formation. That was their revenge. Beautiful. I didn't have to
run around the track with my ass sweating or try to throw a
demented basketball through a demented hoop.
We marched around and made up dirty songs, and the good
American boys on the football team threatened to whip our asses
but somehow never got around to it. Probably because we were
bigger and meaner. To me, it was wonderful, pretending to be a
Nazi, and then turning around and proclaiming that my consitutional
rights were being violated.
I did sometimes get emotional. I remember one time in class,
after a little too much wine, with a tear in each eye, I said, "I
promise you, this will hardly be the last war. As soon as one enemy
is eliminated somehow another is found. It's endless and meaningless.
There's no such thing as a good war or a bad war."
Another time there was a communist speaking from a platform
on a vacant lot south of campus. He was a very earnest boy
with rimless glasses, pimples, wearing a black sweater with holes
in the elbows. I stood listening and had some of my disciples with
me. One of them was a White Russian, Zircoff, his father or his
grandfather had been killed by the Reds in the Russian revolution.
He showed me a sack of rotten tomatoes. "When you give the
word," he told me, "we'll begin throwing them."
It occurred to me suddenly that my disciples hadn't been
listening to the speaker, or even if they had been, nothing he had said
would matter. Their minds were made up. Most of the world was
like that. Having a medium-sized cock suddenly didn't seem the
world's worst sin.
"Zircoff," I said, "put the tomatoes away."
"Piss," he said, "I wish they were hand grenades."
I lost control of my disciples that day, and walked away as they
started hurling their rotten tomatoes.
I was informed that a new Vanguard Party was to be formed. I
was given an address in Glendale and I went there that night. We
sat in the basement of a large home with our wine bottles and our
There was a platform and desk with a large American flag
spread across the back wall. A healthy looking American boy
walked out on the platform and suggested that we begin by saluting
the flag, pledging allegiance to it.
I always disliked pledging allegiance to the flag. It was so
tedious and sillyass. I always felt more like pledging allegiance to
myself, but there we were and we stood up and ran through it. Then,
afterwards, the little pause, and everybody sitting down feeling as
if they had been slightly molested.
The healthy American began talking. I recognized him as a fat
boy who sat in the front row of the playwriting class. I never
trusted those types. Sucks. Strictly sucks. He began: "The Communist
menace must be stopped. We are gathered here to take steps
to do so. We will take lawful steps and, perhaps, unlawful steps to
do this . . ."
I don't remember much of the rest. I didn't care about the
Communist menace of the Nazi menace. I wanted to get drunk, I wanted
to fuck, I wanted a good meal, I wanted to sing over a glass of
beer in a dirty bar and smoke a cigar. I wasn't aware. I was a dupe,
Afterwards, Zircoff and myself and one ex-disciple went down
to Westlake Park and we rented a boat and tried to catch a duck
for dinner. We managed to get very drunk and didn't catch a duck
and found we didn't have enough money between us to pay the boat
We floated around the shallow lake and played Russian
Roulette with Zircoff's gun and we all lucked through. Then Zircoff
stood up in the moonlight drunk and shot the hell out of the bottom
of the boat. The water started coming in and we ran her for shore.
A third of the way in the boat sank and we had to get out and get
our assholes wet wading to shore. So the night ended up well and
hadn't been wasted . . .
I played Nazi for some time longer, while caring for neither the
Nazis nor the Communists nor the Americans. But I was losing interest.
In fact, just before Pearl Harbor I gave it up. The fun had
gone out of it. I felt the war was going to happen and I didn't feel
much like going to war and I didn't feel much like being a
conscientious objector either. It was catshit. It was useless. Me and my
medium-sized cock were in trouble.
I sat in class without speaking, waiting. The students and the
instructors needled me. I had lost my drive, my steam, my mox. I
felt that the whole thing was out of my hands. It was going to
happen. All the cocks were in trouble.
My English instructor, quite a nice lady with beautiful legs
asked me to stay after class one day. "What's the matter, Chinaski?"
she asked. "I've given up," I said. "You mean politics?" she
asked. "I mean politics," I said. "You'd make a good sailor," she
said. I walked out . . .
I was sitting with my best friend, a marine, in a downtown bar
drinking a beer when it happened. A radio was playing music,
there was a break in the music. They told us that Pearl Harbor had
just been bombed. It was announced that all military personnel
should return immediately to their bases. My friend asked that I
take the bus with him to San Diego, suggesting that it might turn
out to be the last time I ever saw him. He was right.